With many of the sport’s biggest names in contention, ESPN’s live telecasts of the weekend rounds of play in The Open Championship on Saturday and Sunday, July 20-21, set cable viewership records for golf’s oldest major championship. ESPN’s digital platforms also saw double and triple-digit increases during the event.
According to Nielsen Fast National data, ESPN earned a record-tying 3.1 U.S. rating for the 8 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. ET live telecast of Sunday’s final round as fan favorite Phil Mickelson scored a come-from-behind win at Scotland’s Muirfield Golf Links. The telecast, which averaged 4,372,000 viewers, tied the ratings record set in last year’s final round for the highest-rated cable telecast of the event and set a cable viewership record for the event, eclipsing last year’s mark of 4,227,000.
The 9 a.m. – 2:47 p.m. Saturday telecast earned a 2.7 U.S. household rating, averaging 3,776,000 viewers, beating the 2.6 U.S. rating and 3,545,000 viewership average ESPN earned for third-round coverage in 2012. It ranks as cable’s highest-rated and most-viewed telecast of the third round.
Sunday’s telecast ranks third-highest among all golf telecasts on cable, only behind the 2008 U.S. Open playoff and the 2010 Masters first round (when Tiger Woods returned to golf). The Saturday telecast ranks ninth. ESPN golf telecasts hold nine of the top 10 positions, including all of the top five.
ESPN’s telecast of the opening round on Thursday also attracted more viewers than last year, with the 7 a.m. – 3:45 p.m. telecast averaging 1,398,000 viewers, up from an average of 1,343,000 last year, with both telecasts earning a 1.1 U.S. rating. Friday’s 7 a.m. – 3:39 p.m. coverage was down slightly from last year, earning a 1.3 rating with an average of 1,658,000 viewers, down from a 1.4 rating and 1,771,000 viewers last year.
Saturday’s encore presentation airing on ABC from 3-6 p.m. was up in metered market ratings, earning a 1.4, up from a 1.3 last year. Sunday’s presentation earned a 1.6 metered market rating, the same as last year.
The Open Championship (July 18-21) across ESPN digital platforms – including ESPN.com, Fantasy, the ESPN mobile Web, ScoreCenter and WatchESPN – logged an average minute audience of 95,831. Specifically on ESPN.com, the Golf section logged an average of 890,000 daily unique visitors (up 22 percent) and an average of 9.3 million minutes per day (up 65 percent). On mobile, the Golf section on the mobile Web averaged 7.6 million minutes per day during the championship (up 32 percent), while the Golf section on the ScoreCenter app averaged 413,000 daily unique visitors (up 107 percent) with an average of 2 million minutes per day (up 105 percent). Additionally, The Open Championship on WatchESPN and ESPN3 generated 74.8 million total minutes throughout the event, up 21 percent compared to last year.
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